Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire have denounced a reliance on developing Filton Airfield to deliver a Government-appointed inspector’s higher housing demands.
In a revision to the Core Strategy, South Gloucestershire Council’s 15-year planning framework just published, the new homes supply number for South Gloucestershire is proposed to increase by 4,855 (to 26,435) – with 81% of this additional number to be located on Filton Airfield and the neighbouring Cribbs Causeway/Patchway area.
Added to those already in the original plan, this will result in 5,700 new homes in the area. This is despite the strategic economic importance of the airfield, the widespread local support for it to remain, and existing congestion problems.
The strategy is being revised to meet the demands of a Government-appointed inspector who told South Gloucestershire in August that he wanted the authority to do work to identify locations for an increased number of new homes. Labour councillors have consistently opposed the redevelopment of the airfield and are now arguing that BAE Systems’ decision to close the Airfield is being used by the council as a short-term windfall to plug the gap.
Labour Group Leader Cllr Andy Perkins (Labour, Woodstock) said:
“We know that the Government inspector wants more new homes in addition to the 21,500 initially planned, despite high-profile Conservative and Liberal Democrat election campaigns against growth above this figure.”
“The council is in danger of responding with no long-term vision for the district. The Council is proposing that the airfield should be redeveloped without sufficient work being done on possible alternatives. There is no Plan B if the airfield site is not developed. The neighbouring sites around Cribbs Causeway and the airfield in particular have been singled out as a convenient dumping ground for nearly all of these additional homes.”
Local Cllr Ian Scott (Labour, Filton) added:
“The North Fringe already suffers from terrible congestion and the addition of 5,700 new homes is an awful prospect. Development on this scale would seriously damage the quality of life not only in the immediate areas of Filton and Patchway but in neighbouring districts including Stoke Gifford, Bradley Stoke and Almondsbury. I can foresee the Ring Road, the A38 and the local motorway network gridlocked if this many new homes are built here. We have no assurance that measures to overcome congestion, such as the rapid transit scheme or new passenger rail services, will ever materialise.”
The revised Core Strategy will now go through a series of meetings culminating in a Full Council decision on Wednesday 14th December. A seven-week public consultation period will then follow before the Government inspector holds his hearing into the Council’s plans in the Spring.
Cllr Perkins added:
“We will continue to argue that redevelopment of the airfield is not in the long-term interests of South Gloucestershire nor indeed the wider region around Bristol and will encourage anyone who feels the same to make the strongest representations they can during the public consultation phase.”
Source: South Gloucestershire Labour